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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Beirut's infrastructure ill-equipped to face Storm Joyce

The storm also made its way to Damascus and Istanbul, blanketing both cities in unprecedented levels of snow

Heavy clouds hover over Beirut as waves crash on the seawall of the corniche, in Dbayeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Storm Joyce hit late Tuesday with gale force winds registering up to 100 km/h (62 miles/h). (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Heavy clouds hover over Beirut as waves crash on the seawall of the corniche, in Dbayeh, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Storm Joyce hit late Tuesday with gale force winds registering up to 100 km/h (62 miles/h). (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Waves smashed against Beirut’s abandoned corniche through Wednesday night, as Storm Joyce pummeled the country.

The storm, having made land in Lebanon late on Tuesday gathered steam on Wednesday, ripping awnings from buildings in Beirut and delivering several inches of snow to the country’s mountains.

As the front tore across a Beirut, a city already frozen by a corona-virus lockdown, the Meteorological department at Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport recorded wind spends of more than 70 kilometers per hour, as well as rising sea levels as the storm initially made land on Tuesday.

Through Wednesday, winds increased further to 85 kilometers per hour, and thunderstorms rumbled throughout the evening.

Thursday was predicated to be the coldest day of the year as the cold snap bites, bringing further snow to areas of lower altitude.

The country has had a notably dry start to the year, meteorologists warned, with temperatures expected to begin rising again from Friday.

The country’s infrastructure is ill-prepared for such weather, poor drainage systems leave main roads open to flooding, whilst hundreds of uncomplete construction projects, their cranes towering above Beirut are vulnerable to the high winds.

Local authorities warned people against driving, particularly in the mountains where ice has begun to form on the roads.

There were also concerns for the more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees hosted by Lebanon, with many of them confined to tents in refugee camps offering little protection from the elements.

The front also delivered a dusting of snow to Damascus, just days after it passed over Istanbul, leaving the Turkish city blanketed in unprecedented levels of snow.

Updated: February 18, 2021 01:12 PM

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